by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
People have been wanting totally invisible hearing aids for a long time. Now, the ultimate in invisible hearing aids, totally implanted hearing aids, are approaching reality.
Otologics, Inc. is beginning trials on their fully implantable hearing aid. This hearing aid is totally invisible as it is all under your skin—including the microphone.
Note, I’m am not advocating that you immediately jump on the bandwagon for this device as there are still a number of unresolved “issues” in my opinion. One concern that has come out of their preliminary studies is that with the microphone under your scalp, the sound is not as clear as it is when a microphone is open to the air. Another problem is replacing the rechargeable battery when it finally won’t take a charge anymore. (It will require minor surgery each time.) Furthermore, this new hearing aid is not for everyone. For example, it is not for you if you have middle ear infections or other middle ear conditions such as otosclerosis.
On the plus side, you will be able to wear this hearing aid while swimming under water, or in the shower, and you can leave it on at night if you need to listen for your baby crying, for example. It comes with a remote control so you can turn it off if you want to, or adjust the volume. Another nice feature if I understand it correctly, is it does not affect your residual hearing. Thus, even if the device fails, or the battery runs down, you will still be able to use all your residual hearing. You will not be left totally deaf.